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April 16, 2021

The Politics of Administrative Division Adjustment in Urban China

Event Series: Chinese Politics and Economy Research Seminar Series

PRC Great Hall of the People

A distinctive aspect of Chinese governance and development is the frequent reconfiguration of subnational units—particularly county-level units—through “administrative division adjustment” (ADA). As existing scholarship makes clear, such changes have important effects not only on territorial boundaries but also on the distribution of resources in space and the division of authority across different government tiers. Despite the high economic and political stakes of ADA, however, scholars have devoted little attention to the determinants of ADA, particularly to how overtly political factors like intergovernmental power relations or leadership variables affect prospects for ADA.

In this seminar, Kyle Jaros (University of Notre Dame) will present his paper, co-authored with Jianzi He, that addresses this gap by analyzing the relationship between ADA outcomes and economic and political variables at different levels. Drawing upon a novel city-level dataset for the years 1998 to 2017 that combines information on county-to-district ADA cases, a range of development indicators, and several political variables, the paper assesses the role of intergovernmental politics in shaping when and how ADA plays out. Jaros will discuss how the analysis highlights dramatic variation over time and across space in ADA outcomes and also calls attention to the importance of province-city relations and subnational leadership factors in determining ADA outcomes. The paper’s findings speak to the politicization of the ADA process and the ways that ADA both resembles and differs from more overt forms of preferential policies.

This academic seminar is jointly sponsored by the Department of Government and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University.

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Kyle Jaros is associate professor of global affairs in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, with a concurrent appointment in Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science. His research explores the politics of regional development, central-local relations, and metropolitan governance, with a focus on China.